The Odisha Human Rights Commission has started a probe into a case of hospital workers in Balasore district allegedly breaking a body at the hip so that they could carry it in a bundle.
On Thursday, the panel’s chairperson, justice BK Mishra, issued summons to the inspector general of railway police and the Balasore district magistrate over newspaper reports and TV images that showed two hospital sweepers breaking the bones of a body and wrapping it in a sheet.
District magistrate Pramod Das said he asked for a report from the railway police over the incident, which comes on the heels of outrage over a tribal man being forced to carry his dead wife on his shoulders in Kalahandi district.
The body was of Taramani Barik, an 85-year-old widow, who died after she was run over by a goods train near Soro railway station in Balasore district. The doctors at the Soro Community Health Centre declared her dead.
Railway officials, who wanted to take the body to the district headquarters hospital in Balasore town (30km away) for an autopsy, found no ambulance or vehicle.
A junior railway police official asked sweepers at the health centre for help. As the body had stiffened, sweepers allegedly broke the leg and hip bones so that it could be neatly packed into a bundle. They then carried the body in the sack all the way from the hospital to the railway station on their shoulders on a bamboo pole.
The woman’s son, Rabindra Barik, alleged that the railway police treated her mother in the most inhumane way after her death. “They should have shown some dignity. The sweepers who broke the bones should be punished,” he demanded.